Digital Camera Repair: How to Discharge Camera Flash Capacitor

If you need to open your digital camera for any repairs, you will first need to discharge the camera flash capacitor. If your camera is under warranty, it is highly recommended that you contact the manufacturer of your digital camera to see if your camera can be fixed free of charge by them. There is risk of severe electrical shock when trying to discharge the camera flash capacitor. You should have some knowledge of electrical repair before attempting to discharge the camera flash capacitor.

The purpose of the camera flash capacitor is to store electrical energy from the batteries. The camera uses this electrical energy to power the flash of your digital camera. Without the flash capacitor, the batteries located within your digital camera would drain in no time. The flash capacitor itself actually looks like a AA battery.

Step 1 - Opening The Digital Camera 

Before you try to open the case of your digital camera, you must first remove the batteries. Please note that the flash capacitor will still maintain a charge, even with the batteries removed. Do not touch the flash capacitor. The purpose of removing the batteries is to prevent the capacitor from recharging itself after it has been discharged.

After you have removed the batteries, you can continue to open the case of your digital camera. Every digital camera is different, so you will have to refer to your owner's manual or call the manufacturer of your digital camera for directions on which screws to remove in order to open the case.

Step 2 - Circuit Board

After you have removed the case of your digital camera, you will see a circuit board. Do not directly touch the circuit board or any of the metal parts; only touch the plastic flashing. You will need to locate any solder joints that are labeled with a + or - sign. The first pair will be for the battery inputs to the circuit board. The next pair should be somehow related to the flash capacitor. To ensure you have located the correct joints, locate the flash capacitor and follow its leads to where they enter the circuit board.

Step 3 - Discharge

Once you have identified the capacitor leads, you can proceed with discharging the flash capacitor. To do this, you will need an analog voltmeter. Do not use the voltmeters with a digital number readout. Instead, use one that has a needle dial. You can purchase an analog voltmeter for under $10 at your local electronics or hardware store.

Your analog voltmeter should have several ranges of voltages that can be selected on its control dial. You will want to select the voltage that is closest to 50 volts. Take the red probe of the voltmeter and apply it to the + lead. The black probe will be applied to the - lead. You will notice the voltmeter reading spike upward, and then slowly drop as the capacitor discharges. Keep the probes applied until the voltmeter reads 0. This can take several minutes. After the voltmeter displays 0, remove the probes and apply them once again to ensure that the flash capacitor has been completely discharged.

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